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Mohegan Appoints Nelson Parker as Chief Strategy Officer

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Mohegan, a global leader in premium entertainment and gaming resorts, announced the promotion of Nelson Parker as the company’s Chief Strategy Officer. Parker was previously the Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Mohegan. In this new role, Parker is responsible for identifying, assessing, and executing growth opportunities and strategic new ventures for the company.

“Nelson has vast experience and a proven track record in strategic development and growth within the gaming and hospitality sectors. His skills will be invaluable as we continue to expand our footprint globally and explore new opportunities,” Ray Pineault, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mohegan, said.

Before joining Mohegan in 2022, Parker served as a Managing Director at Driftwood Capital, a private equity fund focused on hospitality investments. Parker brings to Mohegan extensive experience in the gaming industry, having previously served as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Penn National Gaming, Senior Vice President of Hotel & Casino Development at Hard Rock International, Vice President of Development at Foxwoods Resort Casino, and Corporate Director of Development at Argosy Gaming.

Under his new position, Parker plays a critical role in future growth and capital planning, initiating and vetting growth opportunities and collaborating across all functional areas to ensure successful implementation. He will work closely with the executive team to align strategic initiatives with Mohegan’s long-term goals and vision.

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“I am honored to be a part of Mohegan’s executive leadership team and contribute to the company’s dynamic growth and strategic vision. Leveraging my experience in the gaming and hospitality sectors, I look forward to identifying new opportunities and driving initiatives that will enhance our offerings and expand our global footprint,” Nelson Parker, Chief Strategy Officer for Mohegan, said.

Parker’s leadership will strengthen Mohegan’s position at the forefront of the entertainment and gaming industry, providing continuity and driving several strategic initiatives to support the company’s long-term goals of innovation, growth, and meaningful community partnerships.

Industry News

Penn Entertainment to Lay Off About 100 Employees

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Penn Entertainment plans to lay off about 100 employees as it focuses on growth for ESPN Bet.

CEO Jay Snowden told staff members in an internal email that the changes will enhance operational efficiencies following its 2021 acquisition of Canadian media and gaming powerhouse theScore.

The company employs about 20,000 people.

“When PENN acquired theScore, we hit the ground running with the build-out of our proprietary tech stack and the migration of our sportsbook to theScore’s best-in-class-platform,” Snowden wrote in the memo. “This led us to temporarily set aside any potential organizational changes that would typically follow a major acquisition.”

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Penn went on to say it’s embarking on a new phase of growth in its interactive business, which includes ESPN Bet, a $2 billion branding partnership with Disney’s ESPN. Snowden said the initiatives include product enhancements and deeper integration into ESPN’s ecosystem.

Investors are impatient for Penn to demonstrate its muscle with the rebranded sportsbook, and activist investor Donerail Group has called on the board to sell the casino company.

Rumors have swirled about the potential interest from many other online gaming and brick-and-mortar casino companies.

Truist gaming analyst Barry Jonas wrote in a note Thursday that a sale is unlikely in the near term because of the complexity of a transaction that would likely involve major divestitures.

Penn’s release of new ESPN Bet features this fall during football season should meaningfully improve its product, Jonas said, and a focus on costs indicate the company’s commitment to seeing its investment yield results.

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Penn shares have plummeted 25% year to date. It has missed earnings expectations the last two quarters and lowered guidance.

“Investors continue to wonder what an ESPN Bet success could look like, and how much more investment (beyond what’s guided) it’ll take to reach,” Jonas notes.

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Stevin ‘Hedake’ Smith to Promote Gambling Harm Awareness Through EPIC

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Stevin ‘Hedake’ Smith was at the center of one of the most high-profile examples of gambling-related harm in basketball history, which makes him the perfect latest addition to EPIC Global Solutions’ team as they continue to educate the current generation of professional and collegiate athletes on how to avoid the repeat of a similar scenario.

The former point guard made his name as a star player at Arizona State University in the early 1990s, setting college records for three-point attempts and being a two-time All-Pac-10 selection. However, his involvement in point-shaving – which was the subject of a 2021 Netflix documentary – led to a one-year prison sentence and impacted an NBA career with hometown team, Dallas Mavericks.

The source of his gambling harm – being approached by a gambler to change the final score of a game without changing who wins – is an issue that remains very pertinent to student-athletes 30 years on, in spite of the significant changes to sports wagering legislation.

This ensures that his planned involvement in EPIC’s range of education sessions to teams connected to partners such as the NCAA, MLB, and MLSPA will be an important lesson for the athletes, coaches, and staff in attendance when he travels to address them in his new role as US sports advisor for the company.

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“I’m passionate about wanting to tell my story and get out there to prevent this from happening again,” he explained.

“I’ve been able to tell my story to players previously and I’m able to have a relationship with all of them in the audience because of the way I deliver my message and coming from one big fraternity in sport. Knowing that EPIC has a global reach is something that really stood out to me about this opportunity and I’m passionate about getting out there and speaking about my experience.”

Though already a renowned name in sporting circles, Smith’s profile is set to rise again in the months ahead with the release of eponymous autobiography, ‘Hedake’, which will coincide with his work with EPIC.

“We’re proud to welcome Hedake to our team and can’t wait to see the impact he’ll have on audiences,” added Teresa Fiore, EPIC’s VP of partnerships.

“In being approached to shave points on game, Hedake has experienced a type of gambling-related harm which is different to many of our other team members. His story represents an area of increasing concern within sports, which adds to the range of our education designed to benefit our valued partners and the key people in their organisations.”

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Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) Calls for Overhaul of “Responsible Gambling” Model

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As the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) gathered for their annual conference in San Diego last week, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI)—a nonprofit research center for public health laws affiliated with Northeastern University School of Law— released a new video to highlight the ethical and scientific failure of the “Responsible Gambling” model.

Under the direction of its president, Professor Richard Daynard, Executive Director Mark Gottlieb, and Director of Gambling Policy Dr. Harry Levant, PHAI is leading the efforts to replace the Responsible Gambling model with a comprehensive public health response to the unprecedented expansion of the gambling industry and online gambling. PHAI will be advocating for and advancing much-needed public health reform and regulation at both the federal and state levels.

The new video, which can be found on the PHAI website here, analyzes key flaws in the Responsible Gambling model—an approach favored by both the gambling industry, and the gambling-industry-funded NCPG.

In the video, Dr. Levant highlights the situation’s urgency, stating “The expansion of online gambling without appropriate safeguards and regulation is an industry-driven ‘wild west’ environment, resulting in a looming public health crisis.”

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President Daynard echoed this statement by criticizing the current Responsible Gambling model: “The Responsible Gambling model puts the onus on the customer, rather than focusing on the irresponsible design and marketing decisions of the gambling industry.”

Professor Gottlieb also emphasized the need for change. “The time has come to expose the failures of the Responsible Gambling model and move forward with a public health approach to regulation and reform,” he said.

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